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JOHN BACON SAWREY MORRITT,
OF ROKEBY PARK, ESQ.
MEMOIRS OF HIS FRIEND
ARE RESPECTFULLY AND AFFECTIONATELY
LONDON, December 20, 1836. IN. obedience to the instructions of Sir Walter Scott's last will, I had made some progress in a narrative of his personal history, before there was discovered, in an old cabinet at Abbotsford, an autobiographical fragment, composed by him in 1808 shortly after the publication of his Marmion.
This fortunate accident rendered it necessary that I should altogether remodel the work which I had commenced. The first Chapter of the following Memoirs consists of the Ashestiel fragment; which gives a clear outline of his early life down to the period of his call to the bar-July 1792. All the notes appended to
this Chapter are also by himself. They are in a handwriting very different from the text, and seem, from various circumstances, to have been added in 1826.
It appeared to me, however, that the author's modesty had prevented him from telling the story of his youth with that fulness of detail which would now satisfy the public. I have therefore recast my own collections as to the period in question, and presented the substance of them, in five succeeding chapters, as illustrations of his too brief autobiography. This procedure has been attended with many obvious disadvantages; but I greatly preferred it to printing the precious fragment in an Appendix.
I foresee that some readers may be apt to accuse me of trenching upon delicacy in certain details of the sixth and seventh chapters in this volume. Though the circumstances there treated of had no trivial influence on Sir Walter Scott's
history and character, I should have been inclined, for many reasons, to omit them; but the choice was, in fact, not left to me, for they had been mentioned, and misrepresented, in various preceding sketches of the Life which I had undertaken to illustrate. Such being the case, I considered it as my duty to tell the story truly and intelligibly; but I trust I have avoided unnecessary disclosures; and, after all, there was nothing to disclose that could have attached blame to any of the parties concerned.
For the copious materials which the friends of Sir Walter have placed at my disposal, I feel just gratitude. Several of them are named in the course of the present volume; but I must take this opportunity of expressing my sense of the deep obligations under which I have been laid by the frank communications, in particular, of William Clerk, Esq., of Eldin, — John Irving, Esq., W. S., Sir Adam Ferguson, — James
Skene, Esq., of Rubislaw,